Though the rest of Clemson’s 2021 recruiting class is moving in on Thursday, the 12 freshmen who enrolled at Clemson back in January really made an impression on Dabo Swinney and his coaching staff this past spring.
Swinney said running backs Phil Mafah and Will Shipley were both physically and mentally prepared to compete as any two freshmen running backs he has coached. Wide receivers Dacari Collins and Beaux Collins also had very good springs, while center Ryan Linthicum proved he can compete at center as a true freshman. Tight end Jake Briningstool also showed out at times, as well as freshman Marcus Tate on the offensive line.
On defense, the coaches were impressed with safety Andrew Mukuba, defensive tackle Payton Page, cornerback Nate Wiggins and in particular linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Jr.
“He is going to be a great player,” Swinney said this past spring. “He is a natural prospect. He is as advertised.”
Trotter is the son of former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Sr., a four-time Pro Bowl selection. The younger trotter is considered to have some of the same attributes as his father.
He was rated as a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 1 linebacker in the 2021 class by ESPN for a number of reasons.
“He is a naturally physical guy. You say linebacker, but I have been around some guys where linebacker was not natural for them, but he is a very natural guy,” Swinney said.
Nicknamed the “Quiet Assassin” by Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Trotter, Jr., is all about his business and simply puts his head down and goes to work.
Swinney noticed the same attributes.
“He sees the game well. He has one motor. I love that, he goes full speed,” the Clemson head coach said. “But again, we wanted a guy (there) and he is the guy. We love his potential and what he can look like at that position.”
Trotter was the lone linebacker the Tigers signed in the 2021 class and so far, it looks like he might be a good one. He finished the spring by recording three tackles in the Spring Game, including one tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Clemson will kick off the 2021 season on Sept. 4 against Georgia at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.